Stephen Brown (composer)

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Stephen Brown
Birth name Stephen John Brown
Born August 16, 1948 (1948-08-16) (age 68)
Nottingham, England
Occupation(s) Composer, Conductor, Teacher

Stephen John Brown (born August 16, 1948) is a Canadian composer. He holds ARCT Diplomas in both Theory and Composition from the Royal Conservatory of Music and is an Associate of the Canadian Music Centre.[1] Brown is Department Head of Theory and Composition at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, British Columbia,[2] and an examination designer and syllabus design consultant for the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto. He has twice served as a juror for the British Columbia Arts Council (performance & composition) and is a clinician and adjudicator in Western Canada.

His compositions include a symphony, a piano concerto, three song cycles, two overtures, two suites for orchestra, a canticle for soprano, chorus and string orchestra, an elegy for soprano and string orchestra, a missa brevis, and many chamber and solo works. Recently Brown has completed a piano quintet, a 17 movement work for solo piano, and his fourth suite for solo cello. He has taken a particular interest in pedagogical works, writing seven books of student pieces for piano, as well as, a book each for violin and flute. He has had many works performed at orchestral and solo concerts.

Performances include those by Erich Kunzel and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver and Victoria Symphony Orchestras and the Sidney Classical Orchestra (formerly the St. Cecilia Orchestra) in Sidney, British Columbia, of which he is the artistic director and conductor. Annually he conducts the Victoria Conservatory Senior Orchestra and Chorus. Concert programs have included Handel: Judas Maccabeaus, Haydn: Mass in Time of War and St. Cecilia Mass, Beethoven: Five Piano Concertos, the Choral Fantasy, the Triple Concerto, and Ah! perfido, Mozart: Flute concerto and Piano Concertos, and the Bruch Violin Concerto.

Besides his love of classical music, he takes an active interest in early jazz, roots country, and blues, singing and playing piano and guitar with Stephen Brown and the Bastion Band in Victoria, British Columbia.[3]


Stephen Brown was born to working class parents in Nottingham, England. Due to the shortage of pilots at the beginning of World War II, his father was able to become a RAF fighter pilot, training in Canada and Oklahoma, United States. After the war, in order to better their fortunes, the family immigrated in 1952 to Montreal. His father was employed as a salesman of typewriters, and later, in Kitchener, Ontario, after 1958, of office supplies and time equipment. Brown's parents purchased him an electric guitar when he was 13, and when he turned 16 he left school to further his musical career. He became a furniture mover.

Moving to Toronto that same year Brown eked out a living doing various menial jobs, and occasionally traveled throughout North America. When he turned 21 he became a taxi driver, an occupation that helped support him, along with private music teaching and playing piano in bands in the traditional New Orleans style, for the next 20 years. As an adult, he attended the Royal Conservatory of Music of Toronto and graduated with diplomas in both composition and theory. In order to better his fortunes, he moved in 1990, to Sidney, British Columbia. He began teaching at the Victoria Conservatory of Music in 1993 and became head of the Theory and Composition Department in 1996, a position he retained until 2013. Currently he is the Composer-in-Residence at the VCM. He has had two marriages and has four children.

Selected works[edit]


  • Canadian Folk Song Overture, full orchestra
  • The Fife and Fiddle Suite, full orchestra
  • The Northern Journey, a symphony in five movements, large orchestra
  • Black Eyed Susan, small orchestra
  • The Carol Suite, string orchestra
  • Piano Concerto, full orchestra
  • Sunrise Serenade, string orchestra
  • On the Idle Hill of Summer, solo violin and viola, string orchestra

Voice and orchestra[edit]

  • MAXWELL, Larry Douglas, soprano and string orchestra, version also for soprano and string quartet

Vocal music[edit]

  • Chinese Love Lyrics, a seven song cycle, soprano and piano
  • Where the Geese Go Barefoot, a five song cycle, original version: soprano, flute, viola, and guitar, also three other versions
  • Shadow of a Leaf, a ten song cycle sung as one movement, soprano and marimba


  • Canticle of the Sun, solo soprano, chorus, and string orchestra
  • Alleluia, a cappella
  • St. Elizabeth Missa Brevis, a cappella

Chamber music[edit]

  • Suite for Woodwinds
  • Suite For Flute and Piano
  • Three Pieces for Two Flutes, soprano and alto
  • Six Violin (or Viola) Duets
  • On the Idle Hill of Summer
  • I See the Moon
  • Eulogy for Meghan Reid, Piano Quintet No. 1
  • White Light White Heat, Piano Quintet No. 2

Solo piano[edit]

  • Thirteen Canadian Folk Songs for Piano
  • Six Pentatonic Preludes
  • Five Extremities
  • Bon Bons for Beginners
  • Giant Things
  • Boeckmann Toccatas
  • 18th Century Suites • Book 1
  • West Coast Sundries
  • Seconda Pratica

Other solo instruments[edit]

  • Takkakaw Falls, first suite for solo cello, versions also for either violin, viola, or flute
  • Four Romances and a Lunch, five movements for solo violin
  • Fire, second suite for solo cello
  • There Was a Lady in the East, third suite for solo cello, versions also for either violin, viola, or flute
  • Lilies and the Roses, fourth suite for solo cello
  • Magneto, fifth suite for solo cello
  • Flowers of the Forest, sixth suite for solo cello


  1. ^ Canadian Music Centre
  2. ^ Victoria Conservatory of Music
  3. ^ Composer's personal website

External links[edit]